Friday, January 21, 2011


18 November 2010 and 21 January 2011

In my estimation one of the most illuminating moments for understanding contemporary Hollywood occurs in James Brook's film I'll Do Anything. In that film Nick Nolte plays a down on his luck actor who hasn't worked in ages. A producer who admires his acting chops tries to get him the main role in a remake of Meet John Doe (talk about prophetic, the annoying Sandler would be in a remake a few years later) she is producing. So she does a screen test of Nolte and the actor hired to play the female lead. Later she shows this screen test to the mega-producer played by Albert Brooks and his entourage. Everyone in the room praises Nolte's acting skills. Then Brooks asks the question. He turns to the women in the room and asks the question which must dominate every Hollywood casting discussion these days: would you fuck him? They all say "no". He asks the same question about the female lead to the men in the room. They say absolutely. Needless to say Nolte doesn't get the role.

I make, and I think the distinction has to be made, between celebrities and actors, Celebrities are those pretty boys and pretty girls, some of whom come out of the modeling industry, who are hired and groomed to become stars because they are pretty boys and pretty girls. Actors are well actors, those trained in the craft of acting in generally in theatre schools like Daniel Day Stewart, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Liv Ullman, Holly Hunter, and Meryl Streep and who hold the theatre and the acting craft near and dear to their hearts. Celebrities, of course, can sometime be or become actors. I am thinking here of Jessica Lange and even Marilyn Monroe who took classes at the < Actor's Studio in New York City after she had become a Hollywood star. Generally, however, the twain between actor and celebrity rarely doth meet for as I'll Do Anything teaches us it is not about acting chops in contemporary Hollywood, it's all about the eye candy gaze of Western male and female desire.

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